Nikon 1 V3
I have owned and used Nikon 1 V3 #31000442 for more than a month now, after having used a couple of model 1 V2s for some time previous (and I have kept them on hand); thus, I feel capable of making productive comments about the new camera. It works, and it works well. If you disassemble the four parts (body, lens, grip, and finder) they will fit easily into two jacket pockets; they may bulge a bit, but you won't be seen to be carrying a camera. Of course, you'll have to use the body cap and rear lens cap, but you can probably skip the hot shoe and grip caps that cover the electrical contacts, and you can reassemble the camera in less than a minute when you need to do so.
As a retired ASMP member, I still do one regular job which mostly depends on recording indoor activities under available light. The 10mm and 18.5mm lenses are my mainstays, but I have had occasion to use most of the rest of the Nikon 1 lenses for one reason or another. All of them have produced satisfying images. I rarely need to print larger than 8x10s, but I have made prints this size from as little as a quarter of the total image recorded by the sensor, and they have worked. The shadows most often show noise to a greater or lesser extent, but as a former devotee of Tri X film I see the noise as the equivalent of grain, and I always have liked to have my film photographs show a little of the grain that typifies the medium.
So, then, I am happy with the pix I have made during the last month or so. Why then the "Enigma"?
The real question is: for whom is the V3 intended? What user, with what intentions?
Most of the changes it adds to the V2 enhance its usability under extreme circumstances. For example, you can get rid of the focusing "beeps" but retain the quiet shutter release noise instead of having all or nothing at all. The added function buttons, though, are limited: there are a variety of possible options, such as exposure compensation, that they will not bring up, but they can be helpful in other ways. You can cram more photos per second into the memory cache if this is important. The new finder is a slight improvement on that of the V2. The swiveling back screen can occasionally be very useful. And so on. One might say that most of these changes are improvements aimed at a more professional user, and they all work as intended. Maybe the V3 is intended for a more "professional" user?
But consider then the new lens. Some reviewers have called it simply a remount of the original one, but it's not. Despite having the same zoom and aperture ranges, it has three fewer elements than the old normal offering. But testing my examples of the two, I found that my new lens is a mite sharper, especially in the wideangle range. Oh Goody! Happier the pro! So why, then, is there no bayonet or threaded flange to which he can attach a lens hood? Or a filter? Why does the self-capping feature involve leafs that, if he reaches hurriedly into his pocket or equipment bag, may intercept his finger or thumb and get bent back, possibly scratching the lens' front surface or even jamming the capping mechanism itself? This lens is not in any way at all suited to professional use.
The use of Micro SD cards is also no real help, though they are now installed on the end rather than the bottom of the V3 body. Imagine a pro photographer in a rush to change cards having to deal with these little bitty things, perhaps even with gloves on in midwinter! Or even yourself, pro or no!
And the hand grip has to be removed in order to change out the battery. Batteries will probably need changing even more often than memory cards. Having the grip removable may be an advantage toward greater pocketability than the V2, but it will slow down the shooting process, especially if you use the V3 for one of its main claimed purposes, rapid sequential work, which will eat batteries very quickly.
Were I to have designed the V3, I'd have kept the permanently installed finder and grip, a la V2, in the interest of making it a camera that did everything a camera should be able to do right out of the box. That camera would be a little lighter and have less height than the V3, since it would lack the separate camera baseplate and hand grip top cover. And I would certainly have put threads on the lens! My version wouldn't be pocketable; but neither is the V3 if you want it to be ready for immediate action.
Most of the above comments may seem to be negative, but they are not meant to be critical. The V3 does all the things that Nikon says it will do, does them well and does them quickly. It should make fine prints up to 11x14" or maybe even more, and few of us need them much bigger than that. It's a good camera, versatile with its array of lenses #once we get the promised 100-300mm zoom and a hoped-for short constant-speed f/2.8 or so zoom to cover the big gap between the 10mm and 18.5mm focal lengths, that is#, unobtrusive, fast, and responsive. I can absolutely recommend it to someone who needs these attributes, and can bypass the exceptions I have spent time on. I have deducted a star, not for lack of quality, but because I think that in the 1-series Nikon has still not defined its audience: some camera attributes are contradictory to others.
But if you want what the V3 offers, jump for it!
June 26, 2014